The Eau Claire Express is proud to announce that National Baseball Hall of Fame member Harmon Killebrew will be the guest speaker at this year’s Northwoods League All-Star banquet. The banquet, scheduled for Monday, July 19th at the Florian Gardens, will precede the league’s 16th annual all-star game which will be played at Carson Park on Tuesday, July 20th.
Killebrew, an eleven-time American League all-star and the league’s Most Valuable Player in 1969, was scheduled to speak at this year’s Eau Claire Baseball Hall of Fame dinner this past February, but was unable to attend due to emergency surgery. A native of Payette, Idaho, he became one of the most feared power hitters of the 1960’s, belting 40 homers in a season eight times, and hitting the most home runs of any player during the ‘60’s.
Blessed with exceptional upper-body strength, Killebrew was known not just for home run frequency but also home runs of great distance. He hit the longest measured home runs at the ballparks in Minnesota and Baltimore, and was the first of just four batters who hit a baseball over the left field roof at the old Tigers Stadium in Detroit. On June 3, 1967, Killebrew hit a 520-foot home run, the longest measured home run ever hit at the Twins’ Metropolitan Stadium and the longest in Twins history. That event is commemorated at the Mall of America, which includes a plaque marking home plate, and one red-painted seat from the Met which was placed at the location and elevation of the landing spot of the home run.
Killebrew hit 573 home runs in his career while driving in 1,584 runs. In 1984, he was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame, becoming the first Minnesota Twin to be so honored. In 1999, he was ranked 69th on the Sporting News list of 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was nominated as a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. The street along the south side of the Mall of America, the former site of Metropolitan Stadium and the initial home of the Twins, has been named “Killebrew Drive in his honor. In 1974, his uniform number 3 became the first of five numbers the Twins have retired. The Twins also honored Killebrew by naming one of the stadium entry gates at the new Target Field in his name.
Tickets for both the all-star banquet ($50) and game (starting at $5) are available at the Express Depot, 108 E. Grand Avenue or by calling (715) 839-7788. Tickets can also be purchased online at www.eauclaireexpress.com. Banquet tickets will also be available for purchase at the Eau Claire Parks and Recreation offices, located at the Hobbs Ice Center, or from any member of the Eau Claire Baseball History Committee. Beginning with the Express home opener, Thursday, June 3, tickets may be purchased at the Carson Park baseball stadium ticket office. A portion of the proceeds from the banquet will go to the Eau Claire Baseball Hall of Fame.